Book Review – PROVIDENCE NOIR – Short Story Anthology

Providence Noir

Anyone who has spent time in Providence, Rhode Island, knows that lurking in the shadows are many sinister noir elements and characters. The city is ripe for this volume, and Akashic is proud to have recruited the amazing Ann Hood as editor. The impressive contributor list conveys the caliber of Providence Noir, which joins Cape Cod Noir, Boston Noir, and Boston Noir 2: The Classics in sketching a dark and alternative portrait of these New England locales.

From the introduction by Ann Hood:

“Providence was founded in 1636 by a rogue named Roger Williams. Williams escaped here when Massachusetts was ready to deport him back to England. In the almost four hundred years since, we’ve become infamous for all sorts of crimes and misdemeanors, including serving as home base for the Patriarca crime family for decades. My very own Uncle Eddie–I can hear Mama Rose screaming at me: ‘He wasn’t a blood relative! He was related through marriage!’–was gunned down in the Silver Lake section of town in 1964, just a year after he drove me in his white Cadillac convertible in a parade as the newly crowned Little Miss Natick. The writer Geoffrey Wolff told me that once he went to a barber in Princeton, New Jersey and the barber asked him where he was from. ‘Providence,’ Wolff told him. The barber put down his scissors, raised his hands in the air, and said, ‘Providence? Don’t shoot!’

“I’ve asked fourteen of my favorite writers to contribute short stories to Providence Noir. We have stories to make you shiver, stories to make you think, stories that will show you my beautiful, noirish city in a way it’s never been highlighted before.”

Published: June 2015



My Review:

I was initially drawn to this book because of the setting. I’m from Massachusetts, and spent a lot of time in the Providence, RI area. That, coupled with the fact that I love the noir genre, got me to open the book. What kept me reading was the immense talent of the contributing authors.

The women of Fox Point wore black because someone was always dying. — from GOLD LEAF by Luanne Rice

While all of these stories share genre and the city setting, they vary widely in content and writing style. We have sorrow, fear, grief, some humor, and, of course, crime.

Beside him in the passenger seat, strapped in by the seat belt, there was only a bright pink, pig-shaped, ceramic cookie jar – a cookie jar he was using as an urn. — from THE PIG by John Searles

Several stories were standouts for me, an easy 5-star rating. A few didn’t hold the same appeal, though that was more a matter of personal taste than anything to do with the writing. They are all masterfully written, with characters that feel real and suck you right into their world.

Before I could answer, he simply walked off in the direction he’d come, leaving me wet and alone, my tube of lipstick still clutched in my hand. — from UNDER THE SHEPARD CLOCK by Ann Hood

Being familiar with Providence, Rhode Island is absolutely not a prerequisite to enjoying this collection of stories. The authors paint their portraits of this place with such beautiful brush strokes that you will easily see it through their eyes.


Thanks for reading. πŸ™‚